A classic long ice climb with alpine character at Willoughby. Last Gentleman climbs a huge, over 100 foot-wide ice flow at the back of the Last Gentleman Amphitheater. Usually done in 4 pitches but that can vary depending on the amount of meandering dictated by ice conditions. The below pitch-by-pitch break down is only approximate and describes how we did it on that particular day.
Pitch 1: Traverse the left-leaning ramp past the bolt to the ledge at the bottom of a vertical flow. Belay from screws and V-threads.
Pitch 2: Climb the vertical section (WI5) until it's possible to set up a belay on a more gradual ice.
Pitch 3: Climb fun bulges (WI3) to the base of the final vertical flow.
Pitch 4: Climb the steep flow (WI4-5 depending on conditions) and set up anchors from slings around trees.
To descent, either rap the route using v-threads, or hike up and right until you join the snowshoe trail (blue marks). Follow the trail south along the cliffline for about 45 minutes. The trail eventually leads to the road just south of town.
Last Gentleman climbs the left-hand side of the two immense ice flows in the back of the Amphitheater. The right flow is the Promenade (WI5+). To the left of Last Gentleman is thinner and sustained Who's Who in Outer Space.
For all routes in the Last Gentleman Amphitheater it is best to park the car at the small right pull-off behind the "Watch for FALLEN ROCK" sign (on weekends get there early, the pull-off fills fast). Locate the climbers trail ascending the slope towards the Amphitheater. Good 20 min. uphill hiking leads to a stand with emergency kit. From here, move right to the middle of the Amphitheater and locate the diagonal left-leaning ramp, which leads to the base of a vertical ice flow. This is the first pitch of Last Gentleman.
Reference: An Ice Climber's Guide to Northern New England by S.P. Lewis and R. Wilcox
Updated route conditionts can be found at NEice and NEClimbs websites. These sites are also sources for additional route info and pictures.
Ice screws and V-threads. There are two sets of around-the-tree rap slings on top of the last pitch. The guidebook suggests using blade pitons for the traverse on Pitch 1. We didn't need them but in less icy conditions they could definitely come in handy.
Be wary that the climbs at Willoughby face sun most of the day and the ice conditions can change quickly. We climbed Last Gentleman on a cloudless sunny day. The crux column got mushy and chandeliered, and the screws (and v-threads) were melting out fast throughout the entire climb. The first 2 screws on the crux pitch pulled and fell out when I was pulling the slack on top belay. In these conditions we decided to walk off on snowshoe trail instead off rapping the route.